Improving watershed rehabilitation outcomes in the Philippines

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Improving watershed rehabilitation outcomes in the Philippines

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Funding

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

A$2.2M over 5 years 2012-2017

Context

Substantial deforestation has occurred in many critical watersheds in the Philippines, which has led to severe environmental, social and economic problems within, and outside, these watersheds. The scale of the problem is great, with the total cost of rehabilitating all critically degraded catchments is estimated to be A$3.7 billion. Past efforts in watershed rehabilitation in the Philippines have had limited success, largely due to the failure to of programs to adequately address key socio-economic and institutional issues.

This project (ASEM/2010/050) aims to improve the rehabilitation of critical watersheds in the Philippines by identifying the key technical, socio-economic and policy drivers for successful rehabilitation. It will then apply this knowledge to pilot test initiatives, improving the outcomes from watershed rehabilitation (including improved watershed health, sustainable landuse, and increased livelihood opportunities for rural upland poor leading to decreased poverty). Improved watershed rehabilitation will help to redress the severe land and water degradation that has occurred in the Philippines. The project will also help remediate past biodiversity losses by promoting the use of native species.

This project commenced on 1 March 2012 and has made good initial progress. Project researchers have worked hard to consolidate excellent existing relationships with DENR at both the national and regional level.

Already field trials has established to design effective silvicultural treatments to promote the success of watershed rehabilitation. These trials include the mixed species trial of native and exotic trees both legume and non-legume, variable spacing trial, and a nursery trial investigating the effect of fertiliser and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inoculation on the growth of seedlings in the nursery.

A pilot large-scale community-based reforestation project is being implemented in Biliran Province. Central to this project is the implementation of interventions addressing the shortcomings of government and non-government reforestation programs in the country. This project adopts the participatory approach, involving active participation of stakeholders in the conceptualisation, planning, implementation and monitoring of the project.

The project also established an analytical laboratory at Visayas State University, which has improved the capacity of the project to undertake analysis of soil, plant and water samples.

Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013 crossing the coast at Tacloban and then moved across Leyte in a roughly westerly direction. Typhoon Haiyan, has had a major impact on project operations. It passed directly over the Manobo and Basper sites just outside of Tacloban where the majority of the hydrology research is being conducted.

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